Here’s Why Microsoft’s Edge May Never Be Your Default Web Browser

Microsoft / Tech
Posted on October 21, 2015 by James A. Martin

If you look at web browser U.S. market share over the past several years, you’ll notice the freefall of Microsoft’s once-dominant Internet Explorer (IE). With Microsoft’s latest browser, Edge, can the company reverse its dramatic slide?

As recently as 2008, IE was by far the top dog, with over 76 percent of the desktop browser market, according to StatCounter. Its nearest competitor was Firefox, at a distant 18 percent market share.

But when you look at the chart (below), it’s been all downhill for IE since then. Today, the browser has only about 27 percent of the market—a loss of almost 50 percent over seven years.

In July, Microsoft released a brand-new browser, Edge, as part of its new Windows 10 operating system. Edge supplants IE as the default browser on new and updated Windows devices. The new browser features annotation tools, a reading mode, and integration with Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant and OneDrive cloud file service, among other features.

Reviewers have had mixed reactions to Edge. The new browser isn’t “quite as good or feature-complete as it should be,” noted The Verge. But “it’s a really great start and already much better than Internet Explorer … Microsoft finally has a web browsing experience it can be proud of. It’s not yet a Chrome beater, but this time, Microsoft is putting up a fight.”

“In terms of browsing speed it’s brilliant, but it currently lacks power features such as Extensions,” noted TechRadar. “To that end, it has more work to do before it can persuade people to move from Chrome and Firefox.”

Edge is largely being ignored by Windows 10 users in the U.S., according to research firm Quantcast (as reported by PC World). Edge’s use declined from about 16 percent soon after Windows 10’s release to about 12 percent today. Meanwhile, Google Chrome wasted no time becoming the dominant Windows 10 browser, with a market share of about 70 percent.

And Windows 10 aside, Chrome is currently the leader among all desktop browsers, with over 44 percent market share as of October 2015. IE is a distant second (27 percent), followed by Firefox with about 15 percent.

It’s still early days for Edge, of course. But at the moment, it looks as if IE was such a non-entity in the browser market for years, users long ago switched to Chrome or another competitor. And getting them to switch back to a Microsoft browser could be a long-term challenge.

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